- Incredibly good value
- Good HD pictures for the money
- Decently effective smart features for the money
- Poor sound quality
- Standard definition footage looks pretty rough
- No DLNA multimedia streaming support
- Review Price: £349.00
- 50-inch LCD TV with LED lighting
- Full HD native resolution
- Smart TV features including Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Multimedia playback via USB
- Cheap price
What is the Techwood 50AO1SB?
Unless you’ve been a regular shopper at Morrisons supermarkets, you may well not have come across the Techwood brand before. But that’s about to change if new distributor ao.com has anything to do with it. Since taking the brand over, AO has wasted no time getting in a range of extremely aggressively priced models.
We thought it was high time we got hold of one – the 50-inch Techwood 50AO1SB for £349 (yes, £349!) – to see if AO’s latest move into the AV space is worth the attention of bargain hunters.
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Techwood 50AO1SB – Design and Features
The 50AO1SB isn’t going to win any design awards with its fairly straightforward black fascia and hardly original silver rectangular desktop stand. However, that stand is startlingly robustly built, there’s a nicely shiny silver trim around the TV’s edges, and both the bezel and the rear are surprisingly skinny for a 50-inch TV costing less than £350. Certainly you couldn’t accuse the 50AO1SB’s of wearing its budget nature on its sleeve.
Connections are surprisingly decent too. Three HDMIs are provided for HD digital video duties, there’s a pair of USB ports for playback of multimedia files from USB sticks, and most impressively of all the set is equipped with both wired and wireless network connections so that the TV can get online.
There are direct access buttons on the remote control for accessing Netflix and YouTube, while a ‘browser’ button opens up other options that include the BBC iPlayer, BBC News, BBC Sport, ITN, Flickr, Tunein Radio, CineTrailer, iConcerts, Accuweather, an open Web browser, Dailymotion, Twitter, Facebook, Viewster, Foreca, Joomeo, eBay, Google, Drivecast, and muzu.tv.
Clearly there are some pretty big hitters missing off this list – the ITV Player, 4oD, Demand 5 and Amazon Instant, in particular. But actually it’s not a bad smart offering for such an incredibly cheap big-screen TV. And we were gently impressed, too, to find the Techwood smart interface including the facility to have your Twitter and Facebook timelines appearing in a dedicated box on your home page. Even though we’d always say social media stuff belongs better on your phone or tablet rather than your family TV.
The 50AO1SB’s 50-inch screen contains a Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel count, a Freeview HD tuner, a simple noise reduction system, a dynamic contrast system, skin tone and red-to-green colour sliders, and even the ability to adjust the gain of the red, green and blue colour elements.
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There’s no motion processing, meaning you’re left with a straight 50Hz image. Though to be honest, given how poor motion processing would probably be at this price level it may be a godsend that the 50AO1SB doesn’t bother with any.
Techwood 50AO1SB – Setup
The 50AO1SB doesn’t work as hard as most TVs these days to guide you through all the elements of initial installation. Really you just get an (incredibly slow) autotune system, and the option to tell the TV whether you’re watching at home or in a shop. Everything else – including setting up a Wi-Fi connection if you need one – you’ll have to hunt down in the onscreen menus yourself.
The menus and the remote control immediately make it obvious that the 50AO1SB is yet another European TV sourced from Turkish manufacturing giant Vestel.
The remote control is reasonably effective, with very responsive buttons – the click you’re rewarded with following a button press is almost too potent, actually! – and while the onscreen menus look dated by modern standards, they’re well enough organised to make navigating around them straightforward. The main and Smart menus are a bit sluggish to respond at times, but seldom frustratingly so – except, perhaps, when trying to type in long email addresses or internet search fields.
You have to be pretty specific with your settings to get the best pictures from the 50AO1SB, at least when watching films seriously. For normal day-to-day TV viewing you can probably just stick with the Natural preset, but for films we’d suggest choosing the Cinema preset, and then making sure the dynamic contrast option is set to Low. Switch the noise reduction off – especially if you’re watching an HD source – set the backlight to high or possibly Auto, and reduce the contrast to around its 50-52 level.
How we test televisions
We test every TV we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.